It’s April Fool’s Day. We celebrated Easter just a few days ago. There’s a passage of scripture that always strikes me as odd. It’s Hebrew 12:2-3. Are you kidding—the cross seems to hold nothing that resembles joy. Is this a prank or something more insightful? I’ve included the paraphrase from The Message and the more familiar translation from the New International Version.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now He’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (MSG)
…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (NIV)
…for the joy that was set before Him, Jesus endured the cross.
Certainly, there was nothing joyful about dying on a cross. Jesus, although He is fully God, was also a man. He experienced emotions and felt pain—His body bled and died. Crucifixion was not so much an execution as it was slow torture that ended in death. It was a shameful way to die. Crucified criminals were public spectacles; they hung naked on a cross, with a plaque declaring the crime tacked above the dying criminal’s head. Death came slowly as the one crucified died of dehydration and suffocation. Jesus was not simply crucified. He was beaten first—battered beyond recognition. For Jesus, there was no joy in the act of being crucified.
So what does that verse mean?
Scriptures makes it clear, Jesus was willing to suffer through the crucifixion out of obedience to the Father. That is very pragmatic. Jesus did acquiesce to the will of the Father. Strict obedience doesn’t bring joy. Obedience is something one does out of a sense of duty or obligation. None of those words conjures the notion of joy in anyone’s mind.
Jesus was willing to suffer to gain a place of honor. At the end of His suffering, Jesus earned the seat at His Father’s right hand. Although that is glorious in and of itself, look past the obvious and see what goes along with that position.
When Jesus bled and died on the cross, He became the redeemer of sinful humanity. If you have accepted that gift of grace, YOU are the joy that made going to the cross worth it to Jesus. As Jesus sits at His Father’s right hand, He shows the Father those who He has redeemed. What a joyful time that must be for Jesus and His Father, “Look, Abba, I have one more! She is worth the suffering I endured! He is worth the suffering I endured!”
Does that thought breathe new life into your continued celebration of Easter?
YOU are worth dying for!
Christ paid the price of your salvation. What joy it is for Jesus to offer you a gracious gift—the one He paid for with His life. Counting you as one of His, made the brutal, painful death worth it. Redeeming you made His obedience glorious.
Today, if you have accepted the gracious gift Jesus died to offer you, bask in His love for you. If you have not, accept Jesus as the only sacrifice a holy God will accept for your sin and make His joy complete.
Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son. Keep my eyes focused on Jesus. Let me learn from His example.
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